Villagers Petition for Release of Kindhearted Restaurant Owner After Unjust Sentencing

Based on an original article from

Mr. Yang Jianlu’s arrest and sentencing for his faith shocked his fellow villagers.

Yang, a restaurant owner and resident of Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, is well known to be a good person who never hesitates to help those in need. 

He was secretly taken to Tangshan City Prison on July 19, 2021, to serve an eight-year term for practicing Falun Gong after his appeal was rejected by the higher court.

Villagers Petition

During a previous hearing on September 4, 2020, 415 of Yang’s neighbors in the village signed an affidavit in support of him.

The villagers’ statement read:

“We are from Banpo Street. We are all shocked to hear about Yang Jianlu’s arrest. People in nearby villages all know that he practices Falun Gong and is a good person. Whoever needs help, he is always willing to lend a hand. We don’t know much about the sophisticated principles of Falun Gong, but we know that he didn’t do anything wrong by being a good person. He has been detained for nearly eight months. Please release him. Let his family reunite.”

Testimony of Daughter

Yang’s daughter also testified to his character during his hearing:

“My father follows the universal values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. He is kind and considerate. Whenever conflicts arise, he reflects on himself instead of pointing fingers at others.”

She described an incident in which a truck driver left a large bag of cash at their family restaurant after dining there. Her father kept the bag in a secure place and returned it to the truck driver when he returned to the restaurant.

On another occasion, Yang catered a wedding. He gave his clients a generous discount but also selected the best ingredients. When the clients showed up to pay him, however, they complained that a guest had diarrhea from the food and demanded their bill be lowered by 900 yuan. Yang complied without arguing.

Arrest and Sentencing

Yang and his wife were arrested on December 3, 2019 at a local market, while talking to people about Falun Gong. Yang’s wife was released two days later, but authorities continued to hold Yang at the Xuanhua Detention Center.

The police submitted Yang’s case to the procuratorate in April 2020. When his lawyer called on May 7 to inquire about his case, the prosecutor revealed he planned to indict Yang and submit his case to the court in the next two or three days.

On September 4, 2020, Yang was tried in the Xuanhua District Court. He entered a not guilty plea, on the grounds that his possession of Falun Gong informational materials did not violate the law.

At the hearing, Yang’s lawyer also presented the affidavit signed by local villagers and his daughter defended him in court.

The hearing started at 9:15 a.m. When the hearing was adjourned for a break around 1:30 p.m., the prosecutor suddenly left, forcing the judge to end the hearing.

The judge sentenced Yang to eight years with a 10,000-yuan fine on March 16, 2021. Yang appealed to the Zhangjiakou City Intermediate Court, which upheld his original sentence on July 19, without having a hearing. He was taken to prison on that same day.